Years ago, in horse-and-buggy days, a poor circuit preacher made his weekly rounds to one of his favorite little churches. As he could not afford a horse, he walked several miles to the little, white church in the vale.
On his way through the fertile valley that led to the church, he stopped at his favorite meadow to savor the change of scenery that each season displayed.
He enjoyed spring as it burst forth with bluebells, daffodils, Queen Anne’s lace, and other wildflowers that filled the meadow and the beauty of the trees in fall as they boasted of their vibrant reds and golds.
He loved listening to the bubbling stream that ran through the field. He laughed when winter’s snow and ice decked out the trees and shrubs, making them look like some of the icy parishioners in his church.
On each journey to the church, he paused to meditate. Leaning on the old fence that surrounded the meadow, he praised the Lord for the beauty of His creation, for the privilege of serving Him, and for all the wonderful parishioners that packed the little church, always asking for the miracle of a bigger building that would someday hold many others.
One beautiful spring day, he noticed a sign on the property…FOR SALE! He didn’t have long to be curious if someone would buy the property for the next week, a new sign appeared…SOLD!
What will become of my lovely meadow, he thought.
Soon construction began on the site. Disappointment did not begin to cover how he felt. Each week as he walked by, he could see all the progress that had taken place. Trees knocked down; flowers gone. The ground disturbed.
A rumbling started in his spirit. Each week, he grew more annoyed. Mumbling and complaining chipped away at his praise until cynicism threw a dark shadow across his soul. His joy disappeared and he blamed God and even questioned his calling as a preacher.
By the time he reached the little church each week, his spirit reacted so negatively that his sermons suffered and the people noticed the difference.
One Sunday as he walked to church, he became so angry at God for taking away his beautiful praise field and his great joy that he kicked at the fence and broke his foot. Luckily, a parishioner came by in his buggy and took the preacher to the doctor.
He stayed off his foot for several months until it finally healed. The next spring when he was able to resume preaching, the parishioner came to pick him up for Sunday services. When the parishioner arrived, he told the preacher he must do something.
“What is it?” asked the preacher.
“You must wear this blindfold,” said the man.
“What in the world for?”
“You’ll see,” the man answered.
“Humph! How can I see if I’m blindfolded!”
“Don’t worry, preacher. You’ll love it when you see it. I promise!”
The preacher just grumbled something else under his breath.
When they finally arrived at their destination, the man removed the blindfold from the preacher’s eyes. As he did, the preacher heard, “Surprise!”
“Wha-a-t? What is this?” He glanced around and saw his entire congregation surrounding him.
“This,” said the man, “is your new church building.”
There, in the middle of his favorite meadow, stood the most beautiful church building he had ever seen. The meadow once again displayed its fragrant wildflowers and the trees in full blossom welcomed him back.
“I…I don’t understand,” said the puzzled preacher.
The man said, “We received a large endowment from an anonymous donor to build you a new church building. Knowing it’s been your heart’s desire and since you broke your foot and couldn’t see what was going on, we thought we’d surprise you.”
As his eyes filled with tears, the preacher fell to his knees, sobbing, “Oh, Lord, forgive me. I blamed You for taking away the very thing that gave me such joy, my beautiful meadow. I lost my praise and even questioned my calling. I had no idea You had planned something even more beautiful than I could have imagined. My cup of joy is now refilled and running over. Praise You, Lord!”
Has joy left your heart? Whether through some trial or heartache? Or maybe something has been taken from you? Has your beautiful meadow of joy and praise been destroyed?
Have you lashed out at God? Have you questioned His dealings in your life? Have you grumbled and complained, questioning your calling?
The Lord has a replacement joy in store for you. Will you thank Him in anticipation of its arrival and for His love and care for you? Will you praise Him again in your beautiful, new meadow of joy?
This post is part of the One Word Blog Carnival listed on Bridget Chumbley’s site.